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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  September 8, 2013 4:00am-5:01am EDT

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protesting against government corruption. demonstrations have been met
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with force in rio di rio de jany row. rio de janeiro. >> there you have it celebrating in japan. beings erupted into cheers as the news was announced. beat out finalists istanbul and madrid. thank you very much for joining us. i'm morgan radford, and i'll see you again shortly.
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>> welcome to america tonight's weekend edition. we begin with an end. california prisoners have halted their hunger strike that at one point saw more than 30,000 inmates refusing to eat. the protestors, the prisoners were protesting harsh conditions including holding prisoners in solitaire confinement for years or decades. a federal judge ruled that might be considered cruel and unusual punishment. state lawmakers said the california prison conditions amount to torture. a view from the inside now, from america tonight. >> when marie works on her oakland, california home, the same home she grew up in with her brother, she is haunted by time.
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>> my brother is 10 months older than i am. >> 10 months. >> you're almost twins. >> almost. >> her brother, who is now 55 hasn't set foot there, hasn't seen this house in over three decades, because for the last 32 years, he's been doing time for murder at pelican bay, the super max prison on california's coast. time, his sister regrets, has transformed him. >> this is him at san quentin. >> is that your brother? almost a different man. >> that's an aged man. when i look at these pictures, it makes me think about the time that we didn't have. >> it's not just that her brother has been in lock up for all that time, for 20 of those years, he's been living for what passes for in pelican boys notorious security housing unit, better known on the inside as
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the shoe. human rights activist call it solitaire confinement. the united nations calls any confinement like this after 15 days torture. dr. terry cooper is a psychiatrist in the wright institute in san francisco. he's cared for hundreds of inmates in the california prison system and he's seen the effects of the shoe firsthand. >> there are some symptoms, which are stunningly frequent prisoners, for instance, sleep loss. very high anxiety, including panic attacks, distorted thinking, so they start to get confused and frightened by their confusion and often their confusion becomes paranoia. >> california inmates are now calling for reform, through a massive hunger strike, the third in two years. they are demanding time limits in the shoe and to make it a punishment of last resort.
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they're also asking for more medical attention, more food, and more access to sunlight. for now, inmates can stretch out in an exercise yard with partial light, for about 90 minutes a day. the rest of the time, they're in their cell. >> it's true that the pelican bay shoe does not have a window within the cell, however, you know, again, these are a minimum of eight men within a pod who communicate with each other all day long. they may even have a cell mate, you know, that's not solitaire. >> michael stainer runs the adult prison facilities in california. he disputes the use of the word solitary to describe the shoe and says the department already met the prisoner's demands following the last amonger strike in 2011. >> why, given the fact that you've made these reforms as you've put it, does this group continue year after year, continue to do this? >> they want to reestablish what
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they had back in the 1970's and 1980s, which was control of the entire population. >> the democratic said the hunger strike was really about prison gang leaders exerting power. >> each of the four inmates represent one of the four major prison gangs. >> you know this to be true without hesitation. >> absolutely. >> with no doubt. >> yes, i do, yes. todd ashker is the leader of the arian brotherhood, in prison stabbed another inmate to death on behalf of the arian brotherhood. arturo is the leader of the mexican mafia prison gang. guillen is a leader. >> they've committed serious
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crimes, but cruel and unusual punishment is still unconstitutional. the question is whether the shoe is cruel and unusual. >> the average cell runs anywhere from six by nine to eight by 10 neat. it's a pretty fight squeeze for any man, let alone a pretty large one. i can take about four steps length wise before i run out of real estate. take a look at the beds here. this is made exactly to speck, but of course the beds would be usually concrete slabs, that are so cold in the winter time, we're told that most prisoners will take their mattresses off and throw them on the floor. imagine spending more than 22 hours a day every day in here for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years. >> it's lonely. everybody has their own experience. you know, some people go stark-raving mad immediately. >> steven is 38 and spent nearly
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half his life in prison. he landed in the shoe for fighting with another prisoner before he was even eligible for a driver's license. >> i did my first burglary at nine years old, and then i did my first car burglary at 10 and then another one at 11 and stealing cars by 12. by 15, i'm robbing people. >> what was your darkest day, if you can remember that, the darkest moment you had in solitaire? >> ok. so i've had several. i think probably what stands out for me is i was caught talking by one of the officers after a certain hour, if they catch you talking, then the next day, they come in and mace you and pull you out of your cell and they'll take all your stuff. they calm it the chilly willy. i was probably 16 at the time. they put me in the cell with just my boxers, so i ripped the
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waste band off my boxers and i tied it around my neck, and i tried to kill myself, and they found me, you know, choking, and sedated me and tied me up. >> 50% of successful suicides in prison occur among the three or five or 8% of the prisoners who are in solitaire confinement. >> there are costs to society, as well. prisoners who spent time in segregated housing are more likely to commit crimes once released and returned to prison. there are economic costs. housing prisoners in the shoe costs taxpayers $12,000 more per year than housing them in general population. still, the california corrections department says it needs the shoe to segregate prisoners who could provoke violence. they refuse to negotiate with the strikers. >> they've been protests across
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california. >> hunger strikes. >> celebrities all pledge their support for the strikers. similar movements across the country have produced change. eight states have enacted restrictions on solitary in the last year, either because of lawsuits or budget cuts. >> and a g.a.o. report found those states reported no significant increase in violence. >> did you look at the policies in other states. >> other states don't have the type of prisoner that we have. the fact is that we looked at quite a few states, and we developed our policy based on what we thought would work best here. >> the federal government is taking up the issue, as well. in june, senator dick durbin, department of illinois held the first ever congressional hearings on solitaire confinement. >> the united states holds far more prisoners in segregation or
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solitaire confinement than any other democratic nation on earth. what does that say about our nation and its values. >> the senator is drafting legislation to impose new regulations on solitaire. as the hunger strike wore on, tension mounted when the state won a federal court order on august 23 to force-feed the prisoners if necessary. we were with marie when she received the tall from a friend, telling her about the court decision. >> attorneys representing the inmates are increasingly fearful that some will soon die as their vital organs fail. if the inmate gets to the point he can't tell us what his wishes are, we're going to get nourishment into him. >> right now, you're hoping that he actually just ends the strike and starts eating, i would imagine. >> yes. >> in the end, marie did get
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what she was hoping for. the hunger strikes stopped before any prisoners had to be force fed. marie told us she was relieved that they had decided to start eating, but said that she and other family members would continue fighting to get rid of the shoe. >> this is a deep, dark wound in our community, you know. this isn't who we should be like this isn't what we should be striving for. >> for his part, steven is striving to turn his own life around. two years after he left prison, he finally got clean. he's now a student at u.c. berkeley, majoring in english literatures. >> there is a t.o. you know how i know? >> also a devoted father to a 6-year-old son, shane. but he says he is still haunted by his time in solitaire, and that not a day goes by that he doesn't think about the people who are still there, perhaps for a lifetime.
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>> that was michael reporting. >> when america tonight returns, the sequel to a repressive regime. baby doc is back. extraordinary access, her report when we return.
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[[voiceover]] no doubt about it,
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innovation changes our lives. opening doors ... opening possibilities. taking the impossible from lab ... to life. on techknow, our scientists bring you a sneak-peak of the future, and take you behind the scenes at our evolving world. techknow - ideas, invention, life. >> welcome back. a new challenge and a controversial figure from the past. haiti's baby
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doc john-claude duvalier faces hearing about terrifying experiences. what isn't a surprise is what baby doc has to say about those days, then and now. special correspondent soledad traveled to haiti. >> this is the real space of the prison. >> this is the flooring. >> this is exactly the flooring. >> bobby duval is a survivor, he served time in the notorious prison and lived to talk about it. >> i counted 20 that died in my hands, 20, right there. >> in the eight months you were here. >> yeah. >> he was tortured and starved with hundreds of other haitians under the rule of john-claude duvalier, better no one as baby doc. >> they pertain a cell of firn
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feet to 14 feet, you've got 30 or 40 more people, depending how many died that week. >> president jimmy carter sent ambassador young to haiti with a list of 13 people he wanted freed. >> they sent a letter with 13 names and i was one of the last three alive. that's how i got out. >> the list had 13 people on it, and there were only three living. >> living on that list. ten others already had died. >> today, what's left of the prison complex is a crumbling testament to a brutal time in haiti's history. when baby doc, the self decreed president for life lived richly among haiti's poor. the regime ended when he was ousted in 1986 and fled to europe to escape the accusations of his victims. so how is it possible that john-claude duvalier is back,
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and free to walk the streets of haiti once again? i asked him to join me to talk about his future and haitis. >> the lawyer for the former president, john-claude duvalier called us up and said there is a place where we might be able to meet up with the attorneyer president. we are heading there now to see if we can get an interview with him. >> most people accused of murder aren't able to walk around like big shots. >> charges of human rights abuse are being brought against him. >> this is a man accused of
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thousands of killings, of systemic torture, of being a brutal dictator and just being treated with all the respect of a high dignitary. >> john-claude duvalier wouldn't answer most questions but tells me haiti is worse today than when he ran the country. >> we were called the pearl of the antilles. there were security, people worked. you could walk around port-au-prince without being assaulted. >> it's a classic dictator line. he had paramilitary thugs who really killing people. >> gary pierre pierre is the founder of the haitian times and professor at city university of new york graduate school of journalism. >> it's a perfect time to return this chaos, so nobody will worry about what he did, because we have bigger things to worry about.
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that's when he came when he did. >> a popular singer is not eager to see him prosecuted for crimes against humanity. she has recruited his son and former duvalier officials. >> bobby didn't believe it at first when rumors spread that duvalier had returned. >> i never not in my mind that any day he would take the chance of coming back, you know, but he did. haiti is the land of surprises, and for sure that was a surprise to us. >> so when you testified in court, how hard was that? >> rough. >> at 60 from years old, john-claude duvalier a shadow of his former self. his suits are expensive, but
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he's noticeably frail. he's back, says his lawyer, to help his country. >> he's been believing all these years, thinking about when the earthquake came and he heard about the suffering of the people and everything, he said no matter what, i don't care what happens to me or will happen to me, i'm going to come back to my country, and that's it. he came back. >> people don't really know why he came back, but the best guess actually is that he ran out of money. when duvalier left the country, he took with him an estimated 400 to $900 million, and 25 years later, he had spent almost all of that money, except for $6 million that is left in switzerland, but that the swiss government has impounded.
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>> in february, 2010, a court in switzerland released more than $4 million to john-claude duvalier and his family, but haiti with help from human rights watch brought a criminal case against duvalier on charges of corruption and human rights violations. so far, the release of the money has been blocked. the first judge to hear the charges ruled the case against duvalier should be dropped. it went to an appeals court, which is expected to decide sometime this fall whether to overturn that ruling and move ahead with the charges. duvalier's lawyer, renauld george isn't worried. >> why so confident? >> because we have the good allows on our side. >> i don't know if we'll win. the point is to try, for people like bobby duvall and other witnesses to say our rights have
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been violated, we want justice. >> bobby said testifying in court against duvalier is a victory of sorts. he still carries with him the death of a friend behind bars. >> i just took him and i put him on the side, just to try, what are you doing, you know? and he died. >> why does that story make you cry, why that one in particular. you told me a lot of stories today. why that one? >> he was a friend. he used to teach me how to fish, you know. guy. he was just a pezant, you know, a guy who fished. when i lost him like that, it was rough.
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>> do these memories come back all the time? >> all the time. i'm just trying to find closure. i still can't find closure. i don't know what will give me that closure. maybe never, i don't know. >> there may be closure for survivors to know that the man with the reputation as an iron fisted ruler is today a shadow of his former self. >> baby doc with our special correspondent reporting. >> the nations biggest retail giant looks to expand, but only if the price is right. wal-mart workers have left the checkout line for the picket line.
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(vo) every sunday night
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>> welcome back. a new round of labor protests this week as workers in 15 cities fought the retail giant wal-mart for more money, demanding a salary of $25,000. the company says that's for more than it can pay. plans were abandoned for three more stores because the city council wants a wage increase of
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more than $2. washington's mayor has yet to say whether he will sign a veto to the bill. in chicago, the former mayor said no to a similar bill. we look at what life is like on wal-mart wages. >> the sun is just up when charmaine rides the first of two buses to a store outside chicago. she has been working there for eight years. >> you've been working there eight years and how much do you earn? >> i earn $11 an hour. >> that is more than the $8.25 minimum wage, but for charmaine, supporting her daughter and granddaughter, the hours she works add up to an annual salary right on the u.s. poverty line. >> i got to get up at 5:00 to be there. >> for a family of three, barely enough to cover rental.
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>> i'm a full time associate at wal-mart, averaging between 32 and 34 hours a week. this past week, i worked 29 hours. with that, it's far below a living wage. >> wages like that are why these union-backed otherwisers are seeking to keep retail giants such as wal-mart out of the city. >> we're asking to you call the mayor and ask him to support us. >> unless they agree a pay at least $12.50 an hour. >> we're saying hey, the door's open, however, you have to share just a little bit of that prosperity with our citizens so they can have an opportunity to have a good quality of life. >> vincent orge is among council members who voted to ban the big retailers. he said their low wage employees become a burden. >> they utilize the food stamps, energy programs, breakfast and lunch programs for their children and all that cost rises
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is pass said on to the taxpayers and the government picks up the cost. >> wal-mart is already opening new stores in the washington suburbs. [ applause ] >> it had also planned six for the district, including one on this run down spot in a poor neighborhood, stores wal-mart said would bring 1800 badly needed jobs. >> it's a good thing, jobs, our managers make anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 a year. i know the residents of washington, d.c. want those jabs and they will eventually turn into careers, but you all help into washington, d.c. there. >> i'm going to be the first in line. >> rolanda jones tells us she would be eager to work there. >> even if the wages aren't really high. >> yeah. i mean something's better than nothing, and right now, i don't have anything. >> wal-mart is threatening to
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cancel those plans because of the city council vote. it's regional manager told the washington general post this legislation is arbitrary, discriminatory and discourages investment in d.c., resulting in pure jobs, higher prices and a smaller number of total retail options. >> they are trying to put a gun to the governor's head saying either you do this or we're pulling out. >> a battle has played out in chicago. in 2006, the city council banned being box retailers, but then mayor richard daily vetoed the bill. his only veto in 22 years in office. now, wal-mart is making a big push into your ban markets. >> this wal-mart in a working class neighborhood on chicago's west side is the ninth and newest to open in the city. in chicago, wal-mart now employs about 2,000 people. the company tells us the average wage is just over $13 an hour,
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slightly above the national rate of $12.57. for these customers doing their back to school shopping, wal-mart's low prices and its jobs are welcome. >> i'm on the side of lets pay 2,000 people to be working. i think it's great. >> it's great, because it provides jobs that are desperately needed in the neighborhood. some people that have a college degree captain get a job and they're finding jobs at mcdonald for $9 an hour. i think it's a pretty good amount. >> for charmaine, making $11 an hour means painful choices. >> we have to make hard decisions, what to pay, how much to pay here, how much to pay there, just to keep things going. >> have you had gas turned off? >> oh, yes. my gas is turned off now. >> why? >> because i couldn't afford to pay the bill. >> how do you cook without gas? >> electric hot plate. >> cooking with a hot plate. >> yeah, i'm sorry.
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i'm a little embarrassed about that. >> some other big retailers pay wages similar to wal-mart's, and fast food chains pay even less. researchers at the university of california berkeley found that wal-mart, which earned $16 billion last year could easily afford to start its workers at $12 an hour. >> a minimum wage increase for wal-mart workers, an increase to $12 or $12.50 an hour would be a significant increase to those workers and two they were to pass the entire cost on to consumers, it would only cost 40 6 cents per consumer per shopping trip, a very small amount compared to the effect on the workers. >> cost
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co pace an average of $20 an hour. richard got hired in washington after a string of minimum wage jobs. >> i was able to purchase me a vehicle about two months ago. last friday, i just moved into a new place, so i'm able to do some things i wasn't able to do before. >> mr. mayor, it's time for a living wage for d.c. and america. [ applause ] >> on the front lines in washington, organizers are asking the mayor to back the city council bill demanding higher wages. >> if you believe, say yes. >> yes! [ cheering ] >> but wal-mart and its supporters insist that new jobs in the nation's poorest neighborhoods are badly needed. and charmaine given thomas keeps
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riding the bus, knowing that her $11 an hour is all that keeps her family hanging on the poverty line from crashing beneath it. >> that was chris burey reporting. coming up, we head to the jersey shore. >> i'm on the jersey shore 10 months after hurricane sandy, the new debate over how to rebuild and protect these communities from future storms. >> we catch up with new jersey's most famous resident, governor chris christie as we ask rebuild, but at what cost? that's next.
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>> back on america tonight now. the last weekend of summer was a tough one for the jersey shore. ten months after hurricane sandy, business on the boardwalk is way down and there's growing criticism of the rebuilding effort there. we report from new jersey. >> we spent three days visiting towns up and down the jersey shore, talking to residents, small business owners, and politicians, including governor chris christie. this is a big debate about how to rebuild after sandy and how to protect these beach communities from future storms. >> john and joeette are jersey shore through and through. they're typical of middle class families who have flocked to these beaches for generations. she's a teacher, he's a salesman and they own a home in the
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modest community in deoville beach. >> paint us a picture of what happened. >> there was radio veins, foundations everywhere, there was a moat around the homes. >> some of the land had been ripped out, there were pools of water. >> to our right, this was all a moat filled with water and it went around this other neighbor's house back to the lagoon. >> built on a barrier island, sandy flooded the beach from one side to the other. their home was badly damaged. they finally finished most of the renovations just two weeks ago. we cut up with them as they were waiting for a plumber. >> what has it been like going through a storm like this, 10 months later and you're just getting in your house. what has it been like?
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>> relief now. it was frustrating, overwhelming, a lot of differently emotions when we first saw the house and everything destroyed. >> what was it like for you when you first saw the house? >> semi shock, a surreal feeling, because of all the damage and work in front of us. you thought you were at universal studios back lot tour, waiting for somebody to flip the switch to put everything back in its order. >> while there is still evidence of sanes destruction up and down the jersey shore, it's hard not to be impressed by just how quickly much of the coast has been rebuilt, but it is how the jersey shore is being rebuilt that has some people concerned. they say it is not a matter of if these homes will be wiped out by another storm, but when. >> hurricane sandy showed us how vulnerable the way we've developed the coast is.
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>> tim is the director of the american lit really a society, dedicated to protecting america's shoreline. he says some of the flood prone communities along the jersey shore should not exist at all. >> the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars right now restoring the shore and the beaches. is this money well spent? >> no. we have an opportunity to make ourselves much more resilient the to how much storms and they're putting things right back in the places they were destroyed before. >> what should they be doing. >> in specific places that are vulnerable, helping people get out of the places. >> get them out of the homes. >> relocate the buildings, take them down, return those places back to open space, return them back into natural areas. >> we interviewed dilling ham in the richest place in new jersey, where the per cap at a income is more than $114,000.
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in the aftermath of sandy, this picture was featured in newspapers across the country. >> in the town, million dollar homes and their land were washed away and this actually became part of the ocean. now, they have pumped in tons of sand and once again, the property is for sale. >> when storms happen, that type of thing is going to happen again. why does it make any accepts, it just did he haves common logic to put houses that will wash away in the next storm. >> should this have been built? >> no. it is a threat to the people who are rebuilding here and it's a waste of taxpayer money. >> nobody has been a bigger booster for rebuilding the jersey shore than governor chris christie. >> why should the rest of america care about rebuilding? >> because when crisis happen in
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florida, mississippi, alabama, iowa allege the rivers or midwest or tornadoes, we don't ask, you know, why would you want to rebuild that? we stand up for other americans. >> we spoke to to christie. the suggestion that some people on the shore that some people should be sent packing doesn't sit well with him. >> i am not going to get in a situation where i'm going to start to condemn property in the state because a group of environmentalists would like to see that. there are property rights. if folks comply with the law and make their structures more resilient, and tougher against the weather, then i don't think there's any reason why i shouldn't let them rebuild. >> the federal government has allocated $60 billion to help communities recover from sandy, money the state of new jersey is happy to take, but the state is not using much of that money to buy people out of destroyed homes. instead, christie has another
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plan, build massive artificial dunes an nearly every beach. >> what do you say about critics who say this is not a good use of federal taxpayer dollars? >> i think it's beyond debate now that natural do not systems that can be engineered appropriately by the army corps of engineers save property and lives. go to avalon and look at the dunes system and how it protected folks and along beach island that had none, but don't bother going there, because it's gone. go further up the beach on long beach islands where they had dunes and the neighborhoods are fine. >> we took christy's advice and went. >> without this do not, what would have happened during hurricane sandy. >> we would look like all of those other places, and here, we're very narrow. we would have cut through the boulevard and damage would have
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been significant. >> what's your opinion on should some of the development come off of the beach? >> i don't think you're ever going to move the property off the beach. if you want to buy these people's homes out, then maybe you can have that conversation. if you don't want to do that, then we need to protect them. >> here's another iconic image from hurricane candley, the roller coaster in sea side heights collapsed into the ocean. see sea side heights doesn't have artificial dunes, but are busy building them now. >> this is a costly project. >> it is. >> do you have any idea how many millions of dollars you guys are going to spend on this. >> total about $16 million from start to finish. >> and city money or federal money? >> both. >> seaside heights is a pretty down to earth place. it's long ban destination for working folks, drawn to its
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boardwalk, full of fast food stands and arcade games. the extend to which new jerseys economy depends on visitors coming to the shore is serious. >> you're down 50% to 60%. >> yes. >> that's got to hurt these small businesses. >> yes, most definitely. if we were here a year ago at this time, these facilities would be jampacked at dinner time. >> seaside heights is hoping to lure back tourists. since sandy, it's replaced a mile of ocean front boardwalk lost to the sea. the amusement pier is now back open for business, even showing mother nature a little defiance, the most popular new ride, the super storm. >> one reality is hurricanes happen, they're going to get worse with climate change and
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sea level rice and sandy showed us that the way we built along the coast puts us at risk. there's no reason to think that's going to be any different in the future, in fact, it will probably get worse. the sea will rise, climate change, bigger storms, more frequent storms. >> how high above sea level are we? >> the street is about two feet and we're probably another two or three feet our house here. >> because some of the climate change models show around 2100, you could have a sea level rise of three feet. >> we read the articles, too. i accuse my kids i only have one storm like this in me and my wife would say the same thing. >> do you think there will be a beach house here for their generation. >> i sure hope so. >> among everyone we talked to, there was a common thread, a lot of passion and love for the jersey shore. everyone is hoping that the summer of 2014 is better than
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this year. >> when it comes to hard transplants, reality is often like a movie, a heart racing stop against time to deliver a donor organ to a patient. eight out of 10 donor hearts don't make it in time. time and distance play a part in the failure. a cardiology has come up with a new idea to bridge the gap. they show us the heart in a box. >> the heart must arrive within six hours. over time, the ice gradually damages the heart, making it unif it for transplant. a new medical device actually keeps hearts warm and beating during transport. this could be a major break through in transplant history. >> hopefully, they will let me handle the heart. i'm no surgeon, but i've dissected a fair amount of animals.
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i'm going to do what i can to poke that thing and feel a beating heart in the machine. >> once removed from the donors body, the heart is connected to the device through the aorta. >> this is seriously one of the most amazing things i've ever seen. >> it continues to receive warmle blood and nutrients. >> how long could you keep a heart beating on this? >> it can go as long as you would
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like. >> v.p. of clinical development showed me how the device allows commissions to monitor the heart's rhythm and other vital signs every step of the way. >> this lets you know that everything is going ok. >> absolutely. >> what happens if something goes wrong. >> you have detection here and alarm telling you what is out of range and you can change pitch flow, you can navigate into menus to change the settings to feed this heart. you have a comprehensive analysis of how this heart is behaving and have a chance to improve that behavior when needed. >> how fragile is the heart, and can i touch it? >> one, it's not very from this jail, yes, you can touch it, but it's not the norm. >> not the norm. >> this is a training heart today. if you want to feel the
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ventricle, right side and left side, and you can feel the vessel itself. see the pressure in the vessel. >> it's warm. >> it's warm, beating, functioning, as if it's in your body. >> you'll see what could be the future of transplant care, when you join phil and rest of the gang for a new tech know. >> breaking convention, a few moves that shocked the art world. sometimes revolutionary can be revolting. millions who need assistance now. we appreciate you spending time with us tonight. up next is the golden age of hollywood going golden but elsewhere. why l.a.'s mayor has declared a
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state of emergency for the entertainment industry there. next.
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>> finally, we travel back in time to witness what was surely a revolution in its time. it was passionate, shocking, all of it on point. now the first footsteps of what is recognized as an overthrow of tradition is featured at the gallery of art in washington.
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>> picture paris, may 29, 1913. society turns out for an evening at the ballet. the curtain went up for the first act of the evening, a wonderful romantic ballet, white tutu ballet. >> just what the audience expected. >> and then the next act opened and there was this pounding music. >> sarah is an associate curator at the national gallery of art. >> these dancers came on stage, slumped over, hobbling, stamping their feet, wearing these wool tunics. the audience had no idea what was going on. >> the ballet was the rite of spring. there had never been anything like it.
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the story is of a a young woman sacrificed to appease avengeful god. the music pounding, dissona the te, the dancers, fighting on stapling, primitive and raw. everything about it was new and shocking. >> people starting shouting in the audience and fist fights broke out. >> people in evening dress throwing punches. >> oh, yes. you had people who felt like they were being insulted, that they were having mud thrown at them. it was just utter madness. how could this even be presented as art? and then you had a few people, a few people saying this might be
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the germ of something new. >> scandalous, shocking, ugly parity, words used to describe the original dances. while many of the iconic ballet performances today seem tame, they are part of an artistic revolution that began in the early 20th century, some like the fire bird have become well-loved classics. of the nearly 100 ballets that came from the company, none brought together the ideals of the bali more than the rite of spring. >> you had this performance that was really a lightning rod for ideas about what life was, what the avante gard was. >> the list of collaborators reads like a who's who of the art scene.
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if you were an artist in paris, you wanted to join. pablo picasso designed sets and costumes, including this 11-foot stunner. someone actually had to dance in this. theater posters were painted. imagine dancing in this. together, with composers and choreographers, they pushed the boundaries. >> you didn't have to paint on canvas or create sculptures for draw. suddenly, art became something that was in three dimensions on a wider public stage. >> it was the genius that created, funded and drove the ballet roots. >> there are varying descriptions from a great man and supporter of the artists to somebody who was almost a monster, who was very, very
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driven, and could be very demanding. what he did was find artists who wanted to bring a new spirit into art, this idea of a total spectacle and willing to work together. he pushed them to experiments. he hired visual artists to think about the stage as a kind of moving canvas. >> work that continues to inspire today. these young dancers are from an academy, a new generation embracing the art. >> there was a genius for combining new things, finding, discovering new thins in the art. audiences respond. they did in his day and they still do today. >> i fell in love with the idea of the artists collaborating,
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you know, musicians, and composers and how they all came together and were working. i really think that that was just spectacular. >> it was this cultural phenomenon that brought together people from different disciplines, from different viewpoints, from differently sides of the political spectrum either, and the class spectrum to think about what made art, what was great art, so i think that was one of the most fantastic and kind of enduring legacies. >> elegance on point. america tonight reporting. the exhibit continues through october 6 here in washington. that is it for us here on america tonight. please remember if you would like to comment on the stories you've seen
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tonight, log on to aljazeera.com/americatonight. you can tell us what you would like to see in our nightly current affairs program. you can talk with us on twitter or or facebook page. police come back. we'll have more of america tonight again tomorrow.
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on a mission to pull the american strike in syria.
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